In This Issue
STATE OF THE CONGREGATION, 2003
On the basis of the progress we made in 2001, in January of 2002, the congregation picked up $200 of my outside support, and gave me a raise as well. We have not progressed as well in 2002 as we did the previous year, nevertheless, God has been gracious to us.
In January, we lost Mike and Chris Cox, and their children, who moved to Ohio. The good news is that they continue to serve God faithfully and grow as Christians. In fact, in July we got the news that Mike is taking preacher-training courses to help him in future efforts to lead others to Christ. Scott Long taught the Sunday a.m. adult classes on the subject of Messianic Promises in the Old Testament. Fernando Amoros filled in when Scott could not be present. I taught on Wednesday evenings from the book of Hebrews. Throughout the year, those of us who taught adult classes also designed the lessons we were teaching.
In March through May, I taught the Sunday morning adult classes a Harmony of the Gospels with emphasis on the book of Luke. Dan Walston taught on Wednesday nights on Jesus' Personal Ministry.
In April, we had a gospel meeting with Gary Eubanks of Piscataway, New Jersey. We had some non-members in attendance, as well as several brethren from other congregations. The best news is that one of our young people, Rebecca Stevens, was baptized into Christ during that gospel effort.
In May, I was in gospel meetings in Crockett and Liberty Hill, Texas. Both meetings were well attended. I preached mostly "first principles." Betty and I grew up in Liberty Hill, and while in the area, we had the opportunity to visit many friends from earlier years. Two individuals that I had attended high school with came and heard me preach for the first time.
In June, we had Scott Smelser from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, come and do a "hands-on" personal evangelism class for the men. Later in the month, I held a meeting in Milton, Vermont - my first opportunity to preach in that state. We also put a first coat of paint on our building. That task was finished over the next several weeks. Scott Long taught from the book of Acts on Sunday mornings during the months of June, July, and August. I taught on Wednesday nights an Overview of the New Testament Scriptures.
In August, we lost another faithful member, as Melva Fidler moved to Missouri, but another of our young people, Anissa Walston, obeyed the gospel. I had the opportunity to hold a series of gospel meetings in Dexter, Maine. Betty went with me on that trip. Because of the severe drought we had experienced for more than a year, we devoted one of our Sunday evening song services to prayer for rain, and hymns appropriate to that subject. Before Wednesday it was raining. We thank God, and we believe our prayers made a difference.
During the months of September, October and November, Scott Long taught the Sunday a.m. adult classes, an Overview of the Holy Spirit. I taught on Wednesday evenings, an Overview of the Old Testament Prophets.
In late September, I had the privilege of holding a gospel meeting in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Percy Wilson, Jr., is the local preacher. Percy was a member of the Susquehanna congregation from its earliest days. I tried to be of help in his preparation for preaching the gospel. It was good to be with him and Jan in the effort there, and also to be re-associated with Clint and Ginger Andrews who were with us here for a brief time. There were visitors who were not members of Christ's church at every session. I preached "first principles." The seed was sown.
In October, I held a gospel meeting at Rice Road in Tyler, Texas. Two families I had worked with in Exton, Pennsylvania, are now members at Rice Road, the Listers and the Carsons. I stayed with Hal and Marge Lister, and enjoyed immensely being with them. I also enjoyed having some time with Jim and Joy Bradford who have been good friends since 1970, when we worked together in Springhill, Louisiana, and who are now members at Rice Road.
In December Curt taught the Sunday morning adult classes on the subject of Bible Authority. Dan Walston taught on Wednesday nights from Acts 11 through 14. They continue to teach those sessions as we go into the new year. As 2002 came to a close, I had the opportunity to speak December 30, in a lectureship meeting in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. My assigned subject was, "What Is Grace, And Why Do I Need It?"
Since I was away for several gospel meetings during the year, several of the men of this congregation filled in for me, either teaching my classes, or preaching in my absence. Fernando Amoros, Curt Hart, Scott Long, Tim Maness, Angelo Miozza, David Stevens, and Dan Walston all filled in for me one or more times during the year.
We have continued to publish the Susquehanna Sentinel, our weekly teaching bulletin, for the benefit of our members, and have continued to send it out by email to those who wish to receive it. Currently, we send it to something over 250 subscribers in the U.S., and several foreign countries. We also mailed out a local direct mailing, The Sower, to all who receive their mail through the Marietta, Pennsylvania, post office. (It was our intention to send that publication out quarterly, but we only sent two issues this past year.)
As this year progressed, several of our men have had job-related changes which have caused them, and the congregation as a whole, to have to tighten our belts financially to some extent. That is why we did not have an autumn gospel meeting as we have customarily done, and why we only mailed out The Sower two times instead of four. As we move into 2003, we have adopted a "bare bones" approach to finances and hope to make the very best use of the funds that God sees fit to bless us with. We only plan one gospel meeting - April 20-25, with Bill Moseley of Taylors, South Carolina, plus a training session on Personal Work with the men one Saturday. Scott Smelser is to teach that session. We will mail out The Sower, if finances are available. We hope to be more active in evangelistic efforts within Marietta and surrounding communities in ways that are as cost-effective as possible. Personally, I am optimistic and confident that God will bless our efforts. Please keep us in your prayers.
--Clarence R. Johnson
THE PARABLE OF THE SEEDS ON THE SHELF
Tucked between the tool box and spare light bulbs on a shelf in the corner of a garage is a packet of wildflower seeds. Their owner received them a few years ago with the intention of sowing them in his flower bed and watching them grow and reproduce.
Due in equal part to neglect, disinterest and old-fashioned laziness, he has never gotten around to planting those seeds. "Maybe next year" seems to be a frequent apology in their presence. Sometimes he cleans up the garage and comes upon that packet of seeds, which are then arranged more prominently with the intention of sowing them soon. There they wait but never get any closer to the soil.
You can visit his front yard today, but you won't see any bluebonnets there. He never sowed the seed, so the plant never had a chance to grow.
Therefore, hear the parable of the seeds on the shelf. The packet of seeds is the gospel message, the good news of a risen savior, which James called "the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (1:21). That seed, when sown, has the power to change people's hearts, when those hearts are like good and receptive soil. The obstacles to hearty growth are many, but unless the seed is sown, it is certain nothing will grow.
The shelf is the tendency of too many Christians to neglect their duty before God to spread the gospel message. Opportunities abound when relatives complain of life's troubles, when neighbors complain about the world's moral decline, and when coworkers mentioned impending surgery or trouble at home. The seed could be sown by an offer to pray or by attributing moral decline to a lack of attention to the Bible, but the seed stays on the shelf. The could-be sower fears offending the soil with such a foreign object as the gospel seed and so he mutters some secular words of comfort instead. No one is hurt? No one is helped.
Indeed it is God who gives the increase, but he requires men to plant and water (1 Cor. 3:5-8). Are you sowing the seed of the kingdom, brother?
THE LORD HATH NEED
We would have you consider a scripture portion of Matthew 21:3: The portion is "The Lord hath need of it." The Lord has no need in His overall supremacy of the universe but, in his plans for mankind, there are certain things needed. At the time of the verse we read, he had need of a place in which to eat the passover feast. It was supplied. But in his plans for the salvation of mankind he also has some needs.
He needed volunteer laborers. He said, "...The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." (Luke 10:2). He chose the apostles (just men) for the primary task. But he needs people such as we read of in Acts 8:4: "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." That is, literally, "every where they went they preached the word." They were busy making known the good news of the gospel everywhere they went. The Lord needs good moral people to show people the reality of serving in the kingdom. These good people would be "the light of the world" which is surrounded with the nefarious works of the prince of darkness, Satan. And light dispels darkness. There is much darkness round about: there is the darkness of ignorance. Most people have no idea what the New Testament teaches; There is also the darkness of evil. Jesus said, "Men love darkness because their deeds are evil." There is the darkness of depression, despair and pessimism. The Lord has need of people who hate darkness and are determined to do all that they can to turn on the light of divine truth.
Hyde Park, PA
Susquehanna (Marietta), PA
Clarence R. Johnson
Phone: (717) 361-6212
30 Apple Avenue
Parking at 19 West Walnut Street
Phone: (717) 426-4537
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P.O. Box 463
Marietta, Pennsylvania 17547
Bible Classes 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service 10:00 a.m.
Evening Worship 6:00 p.m.
Bible Classes 7:00 p.m.
Those who worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth